The traditional bookseller will offer downloads to be read on Amazon’s Kindle e-reader device alongside physical books as it revamps its stores to include dedicated digital areas, free wi-fi access and coffee shops.
Managing director James Daunt last year referred to Amazon as a “ruthless, money-making devil” and played down the advent of e-readers which allow people to download almost any book from a website and read it on the screen.
Yesterday he said Waterstone’s approach would make the Kindle experience better, as customers would be able to “enjoy the pleasures of browsing in a physical bookshop and all the advantages that go with it”, and still read the books they bought in digital form if they so wished.
Waterstone’s has been squeezed by online retailers such as Amazon in the market for paper books and more recently by the advent of digital downloads.
Last year it was sold by struggling HMV to Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut for £53 million, and Mamut hired Daunt to revitalise the chain.